Fresno lawmakers set to block homeless from camping on sidewalks

Fresno is drawing red lines on where homeless can camp – starting with regulating which sidewalks they can and can’t block.

The Fresno City Council is on the verge of approving an ordinance that would prohibit the homeless from camping and blocking much of the city’s sidewalks. 

Thursday, the council voted 6-1 to advance the ordinance. Council member Annalisa Perea cast the lone vote against the proposal. 


The big picture: Once finalized, the city will ban all camping on streets, sidewalks or any other public right-of-way for up to 500 feet from designated “sensitive use” areas. 

  • Such sensitive use areas include schools, childcare facilities, parks, libraries, warming and cooling centers and homeless shelters. 
  • There will not be any penalties or consequences for those who do not comply with the ordinance, except for being asked to move. 

What we’re watching: With its introduction on Thursday, the ordinance will come back at the next council meeting for official approval. 

  • Per the request of Council member Luis Chavez, the council will review the ordinance in three months to see how it is working. 

What they’re saying: Arias and Bredefeld said the ordinance is intended to protect children by focusing on the sensitive use areas that children often go to, such as schools and libraries. 

  • “We are not simply just bringing this ordinance as a standalone item. We are doing it in conjunction with operating nearly 10 shelters, in conjunction with operating cooling and warming centers, in conjunction with building affordable housing that’s permanent, in conjunction of providing public restrooms and showers,” Arias said. “We are doing everything we can to possibly help individuals. But we must also at the same time create some very clear boundaries that kids have the right to go to their school, their neighborhood library, their neighborhood park without any physical obstruction or without having to witness drug use while they’re walking to school and trying to use their neighborhood park.” 
  • Perea said the proposal is just moving a problem throughout the city and not offering a solution. 
  • “Being that I have a district that includes canals, freeways, railroads – I think what this is going to do is essentially migrate these individuals more into these portions of my district or moreso into the residential neighborhoods in my district,” Perea said.
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